The winning quilt
A city-based textile artist describes what it is like to win her first international award
Kamala Murali watched the live streaming of the recentlyconcluded QuiltCon awards ceremony in Austin, Texas, late last week, not knowing she was the winner. “I was informed I had won in the Minimalist Design Category, but they didn’t tell me where I placed,” says Kamala. And so, she modestly assumed it would be the third place. It was only during the ceremony, when other names were announced as the third and second runner-up, that she realised that she had won first place. “This is the first time I’ve won an international competition. It was great to see my creation on a global platform,” says the 30-year-old from Chennai. She is the only one from India to have her quilts selected this year and to have won a category in the annual competition.
“In January this year, I sent in three of my quilts, two of which got selected. One titled Apricot was under the Improvisation Category. The other, called Peach, was submitted for Minimalist Design Category and that is the entry that won.”
Three weeks is all it took for Kamala to create the winning entry for QuiltCon, which is presented by the Modern Quilt Guild every year. “The criteria at QuiltCon was that the quilts need to have three layers: top, a middle layer with batting, and the bottom. I used discarded and surplus pieces of fabric for the top layer,” says Kamala.
It is a throw that measures 55 inches x 65 inches. Minimal in design, the throw has bands of subtle colours like orange, grey and white in the centre with a patch of bright pink in one corner. The techniques Kamala used include improvisation patchwork, patchwork by hand and machine quilting. “It was machine quilted by the Square Inch Studio in the city,” she adds.
The challenges of the improvisation technique is something Kamala enjoys. It is like going in blind. “You don’t design beforehand. You design as you go along, and add patchwork in the process. It is on-the-spot and spontaneous,” she explains.
Other than the competition, QuiltCon also had an exhibition where 600 quilts from around the globe were on display from February 20 to 23.